Everywhere around the globe, people have told stories about a Great Flood. You probably know the basics: an angry deity, a world gone underwater, and a chosen handful who survived. The Bible tells of Noah and his family on the high seas, clinging to life on a zoolike ark. The Aztecs imagined a couple waiting out the floodwaters sealed within a hollow cypress tree, with just two ears of maize to eat. An ancient Chinese flood myth pictures a brother and sister surviving the deluge inside of a giant, magical gourd.
Stories like these are usually considered ancient works of fiction, impermeable origin myths or fanciful fables, but there’s reason to believe that many tales of drowned lands began as eyewitness accounts. People have been passing down these memories for thousands of years, embellishing and exaggerating them along the way, says Patrick Nunn, a geology professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia. His new book, Worlds in Shadow: Submerged Lands in Science, Memory, and Myth, is a thorough account of how lands got submerged over the course of history and how people responded as their homes started going under.
Nunn isn’t exactly ... Read more